University campuses are often described as 'bubbles'. Little hives of energy where you are safe and sheltered from the scary, outside world and nothing that bad really happens. However, this bubble-like environment provides the optimum conditions for some truly awkward situations to crop up - and they will. From bumping into someone you really don't want to see, to your whole seminar group witnessing your spectacular tumble, campuses play host to a whole wealth of awkward scenarios. Here are ten cringe-worthy events you can prepare yourself for once campus life begins.
1. Forgetting someone's name
They spot you across the cafeteria. Their little face lights up and they start to push through the crowds, making a beeline straight for you, waving enthusiastically. You know you met them last night at that house party. You know that they told you those lovely stories about their gap year in Malaysia. You also know that they are allergic to shellfish and that their dog, Trevor, has just been diagnosed with diabetes- but you just can't remember their name. You can see admitting this will break their heart. As they envelop you in a hug you mutter a rather pathetic, 'Oh hey....you!'
2. Seeing a one night stand
The thing with one night stands is that they are meant to be just that- for one night only. You don't expect that you'll skip merrily onto campus the next morning and bump straight into them again. Let alone be in the same seminar group as them. It might have been exciting and fun the night before but, in the bold light of day, the situation is just plain awkward.
3. Mistaking people for other people
It's easily done. You meet a lot of people at Fresher's week and throughout university in general. Everyone looks kind of similar and wears the same clothes- how were you supposed to know the person you snuck up on, jumping on their back and yelling in their ear, wasn't in fact your housemate? They look exactly the same from behind and in your defence, you didn't think anyone else would be seen wearing a coat like that in public.
4. Tripping, falling, stumbling...
Campuses may as well be obstacle courses, what with all those steps, bollards and treacherous uneven paving slabs. It's a miracle you don't break your leg every time you leave your room. Thankfully, there's always a big crowd around to witness when you do trip up, miss a step or walk into post, which I think significantly minimises the embarrassment. Hopefully your one night stand saw it too- ah well, you probably don't remember their name anyway.
5. Spotting someone you know far away- and they're coming towards you...
Perhaps the classic awkward situation- you've both clocked the other, you both know you need to acknowledge their presence- but when is the right time to do it? Do you start waving from way back and risk getting hand cramp? Do you ignore them until you're right up close then do the casual 'oh hi' nod? Do you hug, smile, start a conversation? A first world problem if ever there was one.
6. Walking into the wrong lecture
Universities are big with lots of lecture halls- there's the first issue. Sudden timetable changes, a bad sense of direction or similar looking buildings can all lead to this truly awkward moment. You push open the door, keep your head down and take a seat at the back. Looking up to the Power point you see 'Syntactic theory- Chomsky's universal grammar hypothesis'- definitely not your lecture for your BioMed course. Now there's a choice- sit and learn about Chomsky or do the walk of shame back down the stairs.
7. Making a noise in the silent section of the library
You didn't realise that 'silent' literally meant 'absolutely no noise' when you decided to work in the 'silent section' of the library today. Every touch of your laptop makes a horrifically loud click, every throat clear echoes horribly through the room and every time you move, your clothes make ridiculously loud rustling noises. Everyone else seems to be managing without making a single noise- if looks could kill.
8. Walking next to/behind/in front of a tutor on the way to a lecture
Dear Lord it really is awkward. You're going to exactly the same place. They keep holding doors open for you. They know you're following them and probably haven't done the reading for their lecture. Maybe they think that's why you haven't said hello. You really should say something, anything... just talk!!
9. Not prepping for a seminar
'What were your thoughts on the reading?' the tutor says staring straight at YOU. Normally, you'd happily answer this question. You could have answered it last week, and the week before because you'd done the readings. She didn't ask you then did she. She didn't want your opinion last week, oh no. She decides to ask you this week, when you haven't done the reading. Cue tumbleweed and awkward silence.
10. Talking about someone when they're behind you
Another curse of the bubble- everyone is always near you, and if they aren't, their best friend is. Keep the trash talk to a minimum in public spaces but if you must have a moan do a quick scan of the area before you start. It will save grovelling apologies later.
How many of these have happened to you? Any other awkward situations people should be warned about?
Written by Anna Pitts, a Marketing Assistant and Online Researcher at the Graduate Recruitment Bureau who specialise in graduate jobs . Her work involves PR and outreach and writing informative, interesting advice based articles for graduates and students. Follow her on twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn